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Category: Culture

Ten Commandments

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I have watched with interest the continuing debate in my community over Ten Commandments displays. The most recent incident involved removal of a yellow placard from public land at a local airport. Angry letters flooded the newspaper opinion pages. And in further protest, a group of pilots ordered 150 copies of the sign for the sides of their privately-owned hangars.

I watch and wonder how much of the shouting and fist-shaking really qualifies as righteous indignation and how much might be chalked up to plain, old fear. After all, we’ve been hearing for years of America’s slow decline into the secular. In just such an environment, a call to arms — over abortion or gay marriage or little yellow signs — only makes sense.

Or does it?

Are we defenders of God’s law? Does divine order need a human defense?

If the answer is yes, we admit God’s weakness. We imply that God’s law can’t stand on its own. We accept that the secular might be more powerful than the divine. And we try to fix the problem by elevating ourselves above God, by trying to do for God what he is unable or unwilling to do for himself.

If this is the case, we have unconsciously revealed where our true faith lies: not in God but in ourselves. We have committed the very sin we fought to fix.

We try to fix the problem by elevating ourselves above God, by trying to do for God what he is unable or unwilling to do for himself.

Religious Services

Any form of happiness (http---instagr.am-p-LevVfxHx1p-)

The results of a recent Barna study show that just about every American is religious. Only about 6 percent of the population identifies itself as atheist. But nearly one-third of U.S. citizens doesn’t attend religious services.

People value their faith, but church attendance is not similarly valued. I know that church attendance can’t take the place of belief, but it has always seemed a natural consequence of a real and vibrant faith. So what’s happening here? What does it mean?

Is there something wrong with the Church or the ways in which we meet together for worship? Has the practice of meeting together somehow become an obstacle to the practice of authentic belief? Are there societal or cultural issues at work?

I’d like to know.

Has the practice of meeting together become an obstacle to the practice of authentic belief?

Sanctity of Life

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Thousands have reached out in support of Terri Schindler-Schiavo’s parents. They’re fighting to save a woman, who can’t speak for herself: the perfect corollary (it seems) to anti-abortion arguments. And the vast majority of Terri’s supporters appear to be evangelical Christian, pro-life advocates. But American evangelicals have an image problem. Terri’s case can only make it worse.

Don’t get me wrong. When Terri’s feeding tube was removed, she began a slow, terrible path to death by dehydration and starvation. And in spite of medical opinion, we have no way of really knowing what Terri is going through. But the Religious Right comes across as self-serving on this issue. Do Christians really care about Terri as a person, or is the groundswell of support for this Florida woman just another maneuvering of public sympathy, meant to give momentum to America’s sanctity-of-life movement?

If not, then why is Terri so important in a world where more than 35,000 people starve to death every single day? Is it because she has money (more than $1.2 million from an out-of-court malpractice settlement)? Is it because she is white and American? Is it because she entertains us with the spectacle sideshow of parents and husband battling it out in the courts?

I can’t answer these questions and don’t want to consider what they imply about me and about the people I see in church every Sunday. So here’s my confession:

I don’t know Terri. I can’t empathize with her family or her situation. And I haven’t tried to save a single person from starvation today. Or yesterday. Or the day before. I want to do better.

American evangelicals have an image problem. Terri’s case can only make it worse.

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